Myanmar Sentences Two Reuters Journalists to Seven Years in Prison

Two Reuters reporters have been sentenced to seven years in prison for violating Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were investigating the murder of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys when they were arrested on December 12 for possessing confidential government documents and violating the 1923 law. They were officially charged in July.

According to the reporters’ testimony, police had insisted on a meeting, which was held at a restaurant; when the two were about to leave, they were given two rolled-up pieces of paper, for which they were arrested upon leaving the restaurant. The documents turned out to be confidential government documents.

Police captain Moe Yan Naing testified in April that police were ordered to frame the two reporters with “secret documents.” Mo Yan Naing was later sentenced to a year in prison under Myanmar’s Police Disciplinary Act.

Despite this, however, the two were convicted.

“It cannot be said that they were doing normal journalistic work,” Judge U Ye Lwin said when he announced the verdict. “And the top-secret documents they were holding can be useful to the enemies of the country or the ones who oppose the country.”

After the verdict was read, Wa Lone told reporters afterwards, “We know we did nothing wrong. I have no fear. I believe in justice, democracy, and freedom.”

The Reuters report was published in February, two months after their arrest.

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